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Who Here Has a "Finishing Stuff" Problem?


Anderton
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Yes, EB, I'm talking to you - but I suspect a lot of other people as well.

 

I used to have a serious finishing stuff problem but Mark L kind of cured me of that. He put out great songs with marginal recording quality and I realized that 95% of what I cared about was a great song, and 5% about the recording quality.

 

It took me four years to do "Neo-" and took me 9 months to do "Simplicity" so I'm getting better. For my next project "Joie de Vivre," it's going to take a while because of all the interruptions in my life, but still, I'm polishing off a song once I start it in about week from first track laid down to mastered...not bad.

 

How are y'all about finishing stuff? Do you really get super-perfectionist? Do you say to heck with it, get stuff out, and move on? And if you recognize yourself as having a finishing problem, have you taken any steps to remedy it?

 

Inquiring minds want to know.....

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I have a terrible "Finishing Stuff" problem. So bad that I have no idea at all of how many things I have musically that are unfinished. A lot of it is where I'll get far enough along with a tune to record what I have of it....and then simply never go back to it. I've written lyrics with the idea of putting music to them, and never do. I've skeletons of pieces I never could figure out how to finish them up. Pieces of songs that I recorded poorly, meaning to go back and re-record them, and by the time I get that "Oh yeah!" moment and dust the mothballs off them, I'd forgotten how to play them.

 

I'm completely disorganized when it comes to my own musical efforts. I can go right to a cd or album or cassette right away, find a tool immediately, pull out a file with tax or financial records...The rest of my life is completely organized. But my musical efforts? Fugetaboutit...It's a mess...Reels and reels of tape, 4 track cassettes, digital files, lyric books, scattered all over creation.

 

When I die perhaps my kid will go through all the tapes and files....Find thirty or so complete songs, and 5-600 pieces of stuff.

 

Edited by AlamoJoe
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When I write a song I tend to have a 'picture' in my head as to how it will sound when finished. This is a great help when it comes to recording, as all I have to do is simply colour in a line-drawing, as it were

 

I tend not to have loads of half-formed lyrics, melodies or riffs floating around, either. If I have an idea for a song I generally jump on that idea and write a complete song there and then

 

Black Market Daydreams was written very quickly

 

It took me about four months to record my latest album Smoke. I did it after work and at weekends, whenever I had some spare time

 

In conclusion, finishing stuff has never been a problem for me. I'm lucky, I suppose. I know when a song is done. I try not to add too much tinsel to the tree. Perfection is an illusion. I'm rambling...

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Occipital neuralgia. I have a headache to 1 degree or another every day. Somewhere between rather slowed down and totally derailed is where you will often find me. Prior to the injury that caused it I think I was about normal. I did deadlines well, I think.

 

There's a bar whatever it is has to reach. Ideas and parts come together quickly, it's everything else that takes time.

 

For descriptive purposes, I owe a nod to Satch, Vai, Prince and some other great guitar players. (I'm sure I flatter myself.) Just to say that it's a lot about the execution.

 

If it isn't right, it's wrong.

 

I have a lot of songs that just need me to finish the lead violin and I'm not writing much at all currently, but am doing what I can to finish those songs.

 

I suppose it would help if there was a reason beyond fighting the 800 lb. gorilla and adding more home recorded music to the pile out there, only to get some pats on the back and micro mind the pennies, if that.

 

It just doesn't seem like there's any reason to be in any hurry these days though. My perspective, admittedly, is somewhat askew.

 

 

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No finishing problem here as far as mindset goes. The issue is primarily finding time to do things' date=' but I still manage to get finish tracking/mixing music, going out to photograph at night, processing the photos, and getting them finished and viewable. But it's a giant struggle, managing time between that and work and other responsibilities.[/quote']

 

I have the exact problem.

Time is the most expensive asset I can barely afford.

 

 

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Do you say to heck with it, get stuff out, and move on?

 

As a minimalist, the less the better.

 

I also have to confess, given what the masses are listening to, I try not to go nuts about quality of sound.

 

As soon as I can feel it, either when I get happy or emotional, that's it. It's done.

 

There are hundreds of songs with questionable quality that I really enjoy and those missing components simply appear natural.

 

However, I do not sacrifice the process.

Edited by audioicon
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I've felt I had trouble wrapping up projects in the past - It took me 4 or 5 years to finish my last album. But that was intertwined with working full time, quite a bit of touring & gigs, and a new marriage.

 

At least those are the excuses I used. Truth be told, I often needed to let it sit for a while to regain objectivity. It was all-original tunes, where I was playing all the instruments and doing all the singing, tracking, editing, mixing and mastering, so I'd often take breaks and ponder whether it was "too much Philbo".

 

Since I've quit the touring thing a while, and am retiring this month, it should get better soon.

 

I did go overboard on my most recent song... I realized I was leaving a lot of potential of Reaper untapped in my prior efforts, so I did this song with a 'one template to rule them' approach.

 

First I found some old sysex files for my Alesis QSR that have some killer drum and piano sounds, so I sorted how to load those with Reaper, how to record and edit and mix drum and piano midi using external synths (surprisingly, much harder than using VSTi's), how to overcome some serious midi latency issues by scripting batch files to run MidiOx hubs between each midi port and Reaper, added a track inspector, added LUFS and K-14 metering to the monitoring path, added track groups that submix each instrument and vocal group into stems, went to a 3 display monitor setup, figured how to run the DAW remotely using a web page opened on my cell phone, integrated an old Radium keyboard someone gave me as a dedicated DAW controller, and just today sorted out how to use plugin parameter modulation to duck the lead guitar whenever the lead vocal was going. And, of course, recorded all the bits...

 

This song one is about done, except some final touches on the mix. And the template for it has evolved sufficiently to use it as a basis for future work. This has all gotten done in the last couple of months. So, I think it a fair bit of progress.

Edited by philboking
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I used to think I had a "finishing stuff" problem but it was more of a "fear of criticism" problem and to a lesser extent "not knowing when to let a tune rest" problem.

 

Nowadays when I I have a song that I know what it's going to be like, I usually have it recorded and mastered within a week or two.

 

But I have also learned when I need to take a break in the creative process when I'm writing tunes. Some tunes just take longer to find their way out of my head and I now realize I need to let it rest. Last month I finished a tune I started 11 years ago and I have many old tunes not finished on my harddrive.

 

It's fun to go through the folder with unfinished work once in a while. It may either trigger an idea to continue the tune or give me an idea for an entirely new tune.

 

Cheers,

 

Mats N

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Yuuuuge problem finishing songs most of the time. I don't think I ever finish anything within the same week and a few songs have stretched out over several years. Most of my stuff is instrumental, so it shouldn't be that hard!

 

Perhaps the most common way that I finish some difficult pieces is to put together two or more unrelated ideas, ending up with a song structure somewhat along the lines of, for example, Starship Trooper (Yes), in which Jon Anderson's Life Seeker, Chris Squire's Disillusion and Steve Howe's Würm flow together to make one coherent composition.

 

One of my songs, Road to Paradise, started out as a perc. organ keyboard noodle that became the intro and verse, but then I didn't have a good way to connect to the next verse. Enter a funky guitar riff that I had quickly recorded and forgotten about sometime before. Although the song is definitely not funky, it worked! Then came several short sections that were all mostly ad-libbed independently, until I finally came up with a way to lead back into the verse. I literally did not know how or when the piece would end until I got to that point.

 

This process seems to work for me, but it's terribly slow. Everything I am working on right now was put together in a similar fashion, and I still have lots of unfinished bits and pieces lying around, waiting to find their places.

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i dont feel i will ever be finished doing anything... i’ll be done here when im dead, but thats no assurance one way or another of being finished... why does one feel a need to finish something, may be more poignant to ponder. i find the completion of a stone sculpture to be anticlimactic. there is a certain joy to the dance, uninterrupted by the trappings of life, that comes to an abrupt end and the wait begins for the next stone to find me...

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I think it's a pretty universal problem among musicians, but I have it particularly bad. Once something is finished, there are no more excuses. It's judgable at that point, and that's scary to a lot of folks (myself included).

 

I read "The War of Art" a year ago, and that helped. I also give myself permission to suck.

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Beethoven, Brahms, were always revising. That presumably meant, ultimately, 4 symphonies instead of 5, or 6, 9 instead of 10, or 15 it's fair to say. It was worth it to them.

 

Brahms had a habit of throwing his music into the fireplace...while it was 'on'. :eek2:

 

I'm with Voltan, I think. In this day and age why does anything have to be declared finished, when so many of us are working at home and a revision to a song file is so easy to make?

 

A deadline is a deadline, yeah. Does anyone here have one that wasn't arbitrarily self imposed? Having a group of songs together as an album that can be stamped finished doesn't seem necessary anymore really.

 

I think maybe some of us have a more pressing need to bust new sod than others.

 

I hope none of that sounds like an excuse. I don't have to dig that hard for one, myself. smiley-wink

 

[uSER=421179]144dB[/uSER]. I have permission from myself to suck too. But only in private. :D2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by RockViolin
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I do.

 

I find there are certain times of day when I feel most motivated, and those unfortunately are the times I have to do other things. Like work (music is merely my hobby), gym, grocery shopping, time with the girlfriend, etc. And when I do have the time for music, I'm just tired and don't feel like doing anything requiring effort. Lol

 

That said, the time frame in which I finish things fortunately tends to be pretty predictable. My average is about three months a song, four songs a year. And that's writing, all the way through production and mixing. I am good at finishing what I start. I work on one song at a time, so there is generally no unfinished business lying around apart from the current thing I'm working on. Maybe in the future I will multitask more, but this approach seems to be what has worked for me till now. I know a song's complete when nothing about it really bothers me anymore. Admittedly, there have been a few instances where I've gone back later and changed something that began to bug me with repeated listens, but generally I like to commit to it once it's compleed.

 

But I still wish my average were higher. I've been working on my second "album" for about five years now (my first one took about six), and although I technically have enough material to call it complete, I still would like to keep going and see what more I can come up with. With 40 quickly approaching, by the time I finish my third "album", I'll be old and gray. ("Album" is in quotes, because I really don't know what I'm gonna do with it once it's finished.) And if I ever have children, I will be lucky if I ever get to finish anything ever. Lol So I'd better take advantage of the time I have now.

 

The only thing that does seem to motivate me is listening to my favorite music. Something familiar that originally inspired me to make music in the first place. That can be tough to convince myself to do, because I generally don't listen to as much music as I used to, apart from my own, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood to listen to any music. Yet within 15 minutes of listening to a favorite artist or band, I'm ready to go downstairs and start working on my stuff again. I have to keep remembering that.

Edited by kurdy
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Stuff happens, and it isn't likely that it will be stuff that makes it easier to spend time with your songs. I also can become quite inspired by taking in some music or a vid from my favorite artists. It used to be I'd finish watching a G3 vid and would be practically running out the door, violin in hand, "Wait, wait for me!" lol The world kept on turning. That stuff still works, and it's a weird feeling not to be able to act on it when inspiration strikes. Perhaps that's why I listen a lot less than I used to. And you're right - once you have a kid, it gets even harder to justify being tucked away working on music, much less spending $$$ on gear, unless it's paying the bills.

 

"Gather ye rosebuds..."

Edited by RockViolin
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Beethoven, Brahms, were always revising. That presumably meant, ultimately, 4 symphonies instead of 5, or 6, 9 instead of 10, or 15 it's fair to say. It was worth it to them.

 

Brahms had a habit of throwing his music into the fireplace...while it was 'on'. :eek2:

 

I'm with Voltan, I think. In this day and age why does anything have to be declared finished, when so many of us are working at home and a revision to a song file is so easy to make?

 

A deadline is a deadline, yeah. Does anyone here have one that wasn't arbitrarily self imposed? Having a group of songs together as an album that can be stamped finished doesn't seem necessary anymore really.

 

I think maybe some of us have a more pressing need to bust new sod than others.

 

I hope none of that sounds like an excuse. I don't have to dig that hard for one, myself. smiley-wink

 

[uSER=421179]144dB[/uSER]. I have permission from myself to suck too. But only in private. :D2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when i first received my hang, i adamantly refused to watch any videos or listen to anything anyone else was doing until the hang and i were properly introduced and had our own relationship... two hours into it i figured id record an improv piece and did so, entitling it simply, "rain" as it began sprinkling as i began to record. the piece is something i get requested regularly, its always different because its a concept, not a hard written piece.... its always done in the moment, just as i feel at the time, reflecting mood and environment i become the storm... clouds lifting of the ocean, misty rain droplets floating on the breeze to hail and lightning... any and all might be included or omitted depending upon the direction of the muse... this type of work is never finished until the composer begins decomposing... then its done...

 

maybe...

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Yeah Voltan, according to it's nature, improv is transitory. Still, once you hit record and then stop, that improvisation is occupying a space that is more concrete. It either was a successful enough performance to save, or it wasn't. Each additional take bears the risk/possibility that said improv will coalesce into music that's not pure improvisation. If the fact that something is improv to one degree or another is what matters most, then it is probably best to consider each recording attempt a finished work. Tomorrow will be another pass.

 

I've done the hang with some jazzers, and I did a year of post graduate work in Jazz. I never got to where I could do the math and feel like I was expressing myself at the same time. Too much left brain for me, though I do have tremendous respect for those that can entertain both halves equally, or something near to that. That said, I suspect sometimes that some people aren't improvising nearly as much as they would have us believe. They just have a large bag of interchangeable options and are well practiced at applying them. To what extent that is or isn't you I of course have no idea.

 

I prefer to have my own music pretty thoroughly mapped out, with moments, areas of improvisational possibility. If something unplanned worked well, it gets written in.

Edited by RockViolin
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Once something is finished, there are no more excuses. It's judgable at that point, and that's scary to a lot of folks (myself included).

 

I made my living, for the most part, in a scene where intense scrutiny is a norm. Not only is there a conductor to please, there are colleagues that cannot be let down, and on Saturday night there are no excuses. (If you've been great for a few years and then one night you just totally step in it, maybe everyone understands and laughs a little, but that's about the only time when that happens.) So to stay ahead of the curve, avoid embarrassment, keep a paycheck coming and maintain confidence I became as much as possible my own, harsh judge. That carries over...and while it is always an uneasy time when one presents their work to the public, I have found that once something passes muster with me, I've been through the worst of it. I just have to accept that I'm not Bruce Swedien, and this isn't Sony Studios. That doesn't stop me from trying though....noooooo.....

 

'Tis good to have it on great authority that recording quality doesn't matter so much now. I think I achieved 5% quite a while ago. :)

 

kurdy said >>>> "I know a song's complete when nothing about it really bothers me anymore." Sums it up quite nicely for me too. :philthumb:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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